Handling customer complaints on social media

digital howto socialmedia

A good reputation can be lost in the blink of an eye when customers get vocal on your social media profiles. Follow our guide to prevent it happening to you.

Your social spaces are a voice and a contact point for your business, so it’s only natural that people will use these spaces to enquire about products or services, make complaints, or raise any issues they may have.

The fact that complaints will be aired in public is an extra incentive for a customer to use your social channels to force a quick response. It can take a long time to build up a good reputation for your business and it can be lost very quickly through poor judgement or mishandling of customers. To ensure this doesn’t happen you’ll need to take certain steps to ensure complaints are handled correctly.


Now let’s get started:

Step 1: Create a clear process for handling complaints. Produce a clearly written process and train your staff so that those responding to complaints do so in a correct and consistent manner. You may have slightly different processes for your different channels, particularly if you find you attract different audiences to each channel, requiring different tactics.

digital howto socialmedia

Step 2: Create a separate customer service account on Twitter e.g. (@yourbusinessHELP) to provide your customers with a dedicated place they can go for help, which will keep your main feed focused on promoting your business. Complaints on your main account should be handled in exactly the same way as your help account, rather than asking them to make another action which could anger them further. Once the issue is resolved, inform the customer that your help account exists and ask them to use it in future. You can also use your help account to respond to issues raised on your main account, so as not to clutter your main feed with support tweets

digital howto socialmedia


Step 3: Monitor your accounts regularly so you’re in a position to respond as soon as possible. The time it takes to respond is a key factor in getting customer service right. A speedy response will instil confidence in your business, while a slow response can make the customer feel unimportant. Even if you’re unable to resolve an issue immediately, letting people know you’re listening is better than silence. If there is a period of time when you know you won’t be available to respond, state this clearly either in your ‘about’ section or somewhere it will be seen. You could also use an ‘aggregator’ service like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, where you can pull your Facebook, Twitter feeds and more together in one place to keep on top of comments, complaints or issues. See our guide to using social media dashboards.

digital howto socialmedia

Step 4: Make responses personal. When responding to an initial complaint, make sure you don’t use stock phrases as this can sound patronising. Let the person know that they’re dealing with another real person who cares about their problem. Make sure you respond to each of their points or complaints as missing even one point could escalate the issue or be seen by the viewing audience as avoiding the point they’re raising.

Step 5: Apologise for any inconvenience caused or for any fault on the part of your business or product. Don’t be afraid to take the blame if the fault does lie with your product or business but do also reassure the customer that you will do your best to resolve the problem. Accepting responsibility will go a long way to building trust with not just the person complaining, but also the viewing audience, some of whom may be in the process of weighing up whether to choose you over your competitors.

Step 6: Resolve issues in the place they were raised and if you do have to refer them, pass on as much information yourself rather than asking them to repeat it. It can become frustrating for a customer to have to explain their problems numerous times, so avoid asking the customer to make further actions themselves unless absolutely necessary, or when dealing with private information. If the issue is taken offline or dealt with through another channel (such as email) then consider closing off the issue publicly where it was first raised, so the audience can see it was resolved for the customer, or that you’re endeavouring to fix the issue. You might even thank the customer for raising the issue.

Step 7: If a problem escalates or you feel that it can’t be resolved with a few replies, ask the customer to send you their contact details so you can contact them for their convenience, and resolve the issue privately. Ask the customer to do this via a Direct Message if on Twitter or Facebook, or provide them with a dedicated email address they can send details to. Never ask for them to post private information on a public platform.

Step 8: Turn a negative into a positive. Many complaints and negative situations can be turned into a positive with good customer service. By dealing with complaints efficiently and showing you care about your customers, the positive impression this gives to your business often outweighs the negativity brought to light by the original complaint.

digital howto socialmedia

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Vicki Shiel
Editor at Moonfruit. Likes food and smoothies.

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One Response to “Handling customer complaints on social media”

  1. mohammad shahzad

    Hello Ms. Vicki Shiel,

    Very nice tips to handle complaints on soical media. I would like to use for training and coaching.

    Thanks for your contributions.



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